Carl Andrews

New wine for old amphorae. Large containers such as this, known as a Gaza wine amphora (or, more technically, as Riley’s Type 2 or Killebrew’s Type B), carried vast amounts of wine all over the Mediterranean world in the fifth and sixth centuries A.D. Examples have been found as far afield as London, Trier (Germany) and the Crimea.

Petrological studies of these amphorae show that they were made in the area between Gaza and Ashdod—of which Ashkelon is in the middle. The demand for wine from the Holy Land grew with the sudden increase of pilgrims that followed Constantine’s conversion to Christianity in the early fourth century. Pilgrims, as well as those who could not afford the journey, eagerly sought wine from Palestine with which to celebrate the Eucharist. The result was an economic boom for the coastal area; the population grew to a level unmatched until this century and portions of the desert were irrigated by runoff techniques so that they could be cultivated for grape-growing.